Practical Christmas Tech For Your Mobile Phone Friends

Most of us recognize the need for some sort of case for our mobile phones. It’s not a question of if we will drop our phones, but when, and onto or into what.

Often the choice ends up being a compromise between what we feel is enough protection vs. what won’t annoy us while we’re using the phone. This is especially true of the iPhone or any other touch-screen phone where finger gestures are involved.

In my case (pun intended), the solution was to go with two cases – one for everyday carry, and a second for more “dangerous” duty, like yard work, fishing, hunting, or <insert your outdoor activity here>. For everyday use, I use an Incase bumper-style case, and they are easy to find in many fits and finishes. It’s in and out of my pocket quickly, and doesn’t interfere with use of the phone. It offers almost zero protection, however, against water, sand, and grit, or face-plant (glass first) drops onto rocks and driveways. For that, something way more substantial is needed.

My solution for my iPhone 5 this past year has been the LifeProof case. It’s been battle tested in the yard, on the beach, and most recently in the Appalachian mountains during Pennsylvania’s fall hunting seasons. These cases, while currently priced much less than what I paid, are not inexpensive, but they are clearly worth it.

The Pros

  • Completely water proof – I involuntarily tested this several different ways and can attest that it is indeed waterproof.
  • Sand/dirt proof – Ditto above, be it the yard or our beach vacation last summer
  • Ear buds dongle – My case came with a threaded audio cable (“dongle”) that mates correctly with the iPhone and screws into the base of the case to create a waterproof/dirtproof connection. Your earbuds perfectly plug into the other end of the dongle. For outside activities, I use musician’s in-ear monitors (Westone UM 1), which are essentially high-end earbuds that actually stay in your ears when you’re active, and also block out the sound of any power equipment I might be using. I plug those into the LifeProof dongle, and drop the encased phone in my pocket with no worries.

The Cons

  • Touch interactions are less sensitive. The clear window that covers the screen portion of the phone puts another layer between your finger and the phone, so the feel is slightly less sensitive and a bit less smooth. Also, the window sometimes pulls ever so slightly out of contact with the glass. This effectively creates a small gap between your finger and the glass such that your swipes and light taps may not get detected unless you press harder.
  • It’s bulky. For everyday use, sliding the LifeProof in/out of my pants pocket doesn’t work. The extra bulk hangs up on the pocket fabric, making it difficult to get it out in a hurry. Once I’ve wrangled it out of my pocket, the sensitivity issue above comes into play.
  • Price. I gulped hard shelling out $80 for a case. You can find them on Amazon now for about $50.

For me, the pros definitely outweigh the cons, and it fits nicely in a Christmas stocking. Highly Recommended.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.